Convicted cattle rustler Roddy Dean Pippin has asked a Texas court to string him up in the Hardeman County square and let him hang for his crimes instead of continuing to keep him locked up in prison. Pippin is engaged in a dispute with the state over how much longer he should remain in custody.
"Movant desires to die with his boots and spurs on and without his face covered, for he wishes to see the lights go out at high noon," Pippin, a 27-year-old diabetic cowboy, wrote in an unusual and melodramatic motion he filed June 30 in the Hardeman County District Court.
Pippin, who has a severe and rare form of diabetes, was sentenced to four consecutive two-year state jail terms when he pleaded guilty in 2004 to stealing cattle in rural North Texas. He is now serving time at the Texas Department of Criminal Justice's Carole S. Young unit, a medical facility, but he argues that his sentence should have ended last month. TDCJ officials, however, maintain Pippin should stay in custody until January 2013.
The dispute boils down to a disagreement over whether Pippin should get credit toward his jail sentence for two years he served on "shock probation," essentially house arrest. A judge allowed Pippin to serve two years under his mother's care so that he could get the medical care he needed for his diabetes. Pippin argues those two years should count toward his time served. TDCJ interprets the judge's ruling that allowed him to serve the probation differently.
Pippin has challenged TDCJ's calculations and is awaiting a decision from the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
Jacie Pippin, Roddy Dean Pippin's wife, said he is depressed and frustrated. Even though "the hanging deal stresses me out," she said, she understands why he's demanding such a drastic measure. And she said he's dead serious about it. "One thing about Roddy, he doesn’t joke around, he doesn’t bluff," Jacie Pippin said.
In theatrically detailed language, Pippin's motion describes how and why he wants to be executed. "This tremendous gross miscarriage of perverted justice being so boldly practiced ... in my case makes as much sense as an acorn in a woman's corset!" he wrote. The state, he argues, should use the money being spent to care for him instead on education, public health services and caring for the elderly.
Pippin outlines eight "special conditions" for his hanging. In addition to wearing his boots and spurs for the event, he wants to help build the gallows from which he would hang. He "aspires to be hung" while sitting tall in the saddle of his own horse. He requests a 72-hour conjugal visit with his wife and two hours to play with her two young children. He asks to smoke filterless Marlboro Red cigarettes after eating a final meal of lengua asada steak, fried okra, a baked potato, a salad with Ranch dressing and a glass of whole milk with ice. He wants to apologize again to the people he stole from and, finally, to be buried in a pinebox in Oklahoma, "on a sublime highly elevated hill overlooking the Red River Valley."
But even in Texas cattle rustling isn't a capital crime. And Hardeman County District Attorney Staley Heatly was thoroughly unimpressed with Pippin's beseechment of the court. "It's just a frivolous motion to attempt to draw attention to himself," Heatly said. Asked what would happen with the motion, Heatly said he wouldn't even file a response. "Absolutely nothing will happen with that motion," he said.
Heatly said there were dozens more livestock and farm-related theft charges pending against Pippin when he pleaded guilty to cattle rustling. He said TDCJ has accurately counted the time Pippin should serve. And he dismissed Pippin's assertions that he has learned his lesson and would never steal again.
"Everybody that’s in prison has found God and has changed their life and will never do anything wrong again," Heatly said. "It doesn’t always work out like that."